Sunday, March 21, 2010

Taking it Personally

Matthews Library branch, Charlotte-Mecklenburg library system I’m sure that everyone reading this blog has been affected in some way by the hobbled global economy.

Whether it’s a friend or family member who’s lost a job, benefit cutbacks due to employers’ economizing, or a difficult time selling a house—it’s likely hit home.

I’ve read about the different issues people have faced and shaken my head at the craziness.

Then our county started messing with the libraries.

Last week, out of the blue they decided to close 12 out of the 24 local libraries in our county.

Really? Really, now. There’s no waste anywhere else? No county commission lunches on the taxpayer dime? No little bits of foolishness that could be cut back? It’s come down to libraries?!

My own Matthews branch is one of the lucky 12 that will be left open..for now. But they’re talking about closing all the libraries this summer. And they were sneaky about this—I’d have spoken at the board meeting. I’d have taken on an email or letter writing campaign. It just boggles my mind. And Charlotte is a successful city.

I can easily drive to an open branch. In fact, I live close to the county line and can drive over to another county in ten minutes. But—how many people can do such a thing? How many kids won’t have books to read over the summer? How many adults who don’t have computers won’t be able to look for jobs at the library?

So I’ve now donated money to the library system and am on their email list of folks to call if they discover things might get worse. Usually I’m just wandering around in my own happy little creative haze…now I’ve been mobilized! This particular economic hardship has come up and bitten me in the rear.

It should be that way with our characters, too. They’ve had something major happen to them—if they haven’t,then where’s the conflict? How do they react to it—are they passive? Does the conflict happen to them? Are they victimized? Or are they empowered? Do they become stronger characters and find ways to fight back when the conflict hits home?

I have a guest at the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today--fellow Midnight Ink writer Beth Groundwater will give us a delicious mixed drink recipe...and tell us how to put together a gift basket for a mystery loving friend.